I was recently cleaning out my apartment and was trying to decide on what to do with objects related to my projects/work that are not crucial to performance. I spent about 2 months creating a toy theater set that is the grounds for movie-making in The Memoirist part 2. I wasn’t sure what to do with this toy theater set in my cluttered NY apartment.
I decided to clean it up and take a few pictures before I was going to throw it out. As I was straightening up the set, I remembered how cumbersome it was to bring a fragile cardboard box-house to New York when moving here two years ago. I had to pack up the objects in the cardboard house as if it was going through a house move like I was. I kept wavering between keeping it and throwing it away…on one hand it is part of an artistic project that I made, on the other hand it is completely useless to every day life. I thought of the Temporary Toy Theater Museum that is part of the International Toy Theater Festival and decided to submit these materials to them as one last “hoorah” before it left my home. And to my great surprise and delight, they accepted it!
TOY THEATER: THE GRANDEST OF TALES WITH THE SIMPLEST OF MEANS
Toy Theater (also called Paper Theater) was the rage in parlors across Europe and the Americas in the 19th century, a popular means of staging dramatic spectacles at home. But, just as revolutions in print technology had brought toy theater into 19th-century homes, 20th-century advances in electronic media and mass culture led to the virtual extinction of this inexpensive family entertainment. The small box used to stage sumptuous dances, battles and stories in the parlor was replaced by an all-too-familiar box in the modern living room. Fantastic in scope, easily affordable and open to any imaginable content, toy theater begs to be rescued from obscurity and re- invented in a wide variety of contemporary styles. Join Great Small Works in this exciting revival!
What’s funny about the house from The Memoirist is that I didn’t even know of toy theater when I was making it. I was simply making a miniature set from the things I had laying around my apartment at that time. You can only imagine how strangely re-affirming it was to see a full-blown sold out festival of toy theater 2 years later in New York. I really can’t dream of a better place for this small set piece to be before it becomes recycled to the earth once again. The set design and the video featuring the movie from The Memoirist will be on view from May 30-June 14 at St. Ann’s Warehouse. We open on May 28th so come out and celebrate with me! I’m sure the entire festival and museum will be an absolute delight!